1,000 Bernard Matthews staff to be tested for coronavirus

Bernard Matthews workers at Holton, near Halesworth are to be tested for coronavirus as a precautionary measure. Picture:...

Bernard Matthews workers at Holton, near Halesworth are to be tested for coronavirus as a precautionary measure. Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: Charlotte Bond

A total of 1,000 Bernard Matthews staff in Suffolk are to be tested for Covid-19 as part of “precautionary and preventative” measures to limit the spread of the illness.

So far, 72 cases of coronavirus have been identified among staff who live in Suffolk and Norfolk and who work at the factory in Holton, near Halesworth, with 13 employees currently self-isolating at home.

But now, Public Health Suffolk has announced that hundreds of staff will be tested in order to identify all asymptomatic staff, who are currently not showing signs of having Covid-19 but could unwittingly be spreading the virus.

Swab samples will be sent to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital for testing.

The move follows other precautionary measures brought in since the outbreak at Bernard Matthews, which included new entrances to aid one-way movement of staff and staggered break times.

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Stuart Keeble, Suffolk’s director of public health, said: “We’re working very closely with Bernard Matthews and other agencies to put in place all possible measures to stop the spread of Covid-19, identify those affected and therefore protect staff and the public.

“Testing all staff now is a sensible, precautionary and preventative measure that will help us understand who has Covid-19 and who else they have been in contact with.

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“This adds to the strong and clear messages we have been giving to Bernard Matthews staff and the wider public.

“Everyone must remain alert and keep following the social distancing, hand washing and mask wearing advice.

“Together, we will be able to stop the spread of Covid-19.”

As per government rules, anyone who tests positives will be required to self-isolate at home.

Rebecca Hams, consultant in health protection at Public Health England East, said: “Testing and tracing is one of the key steps in identifying and containing the spread of Covid-19, staff at the factory are being tested as a precautionary measure.

“Mass testing in this way, will help protect staff and the community, by allowing us to identify people who are carrying the virus but who have not developed symptoms.”

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